The best natural childbirth books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about natural childbirth and why they recommend each book.

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Unassisted Childbirth

By Laura Kaplan Shanley,

Book cover of Unassisted Childbirth

Unassisted Childbirth shows how birth can be straightforward and relatively painless if we remove technological and psychological interference. Laura is considered the pioneer of “UC,” Unassisted Childbirth, also known as Freebirth. She states that fear is a main culprit and the body’s reaction is commonly fight or flight, sending women into long, difficult labors and deliveries. 

My husband and I appreciate Laura’s work in the unassisted birth area because it is inspiring and logical. She has encouraged thousands of couples for over 35 years in the pursuit of an unhindered, natural birth.


Who am I?

After giving birth in the hospital four times in what I experienced as “assembly-line obstetrics,” I decided that my fifth child would be intentionally born at home with just me and my husband present. It forever changed our lives and I’ve been an advocate since 1998, with the publication of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love. I’m considered a pioneer in the unassisted birth community. Women are disappointed and disillusioned with their birth experiences and I help put to rest the idea of a painful, discouraging birth experience, replacing it with the manifestation of your inner desires. A satisfying and successful birth is within reach.


I wrote...

Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

By Lynn M. Griesemer,

Book cover of Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

What is my book about?

“Is this procedure absolutely medically necessary?” and “What do I want for my childbirth experience?” are two questions to ask while preparing for birth. Take Back Your Birth ignites the heart, the mind, and the emotions. 

Will you make decisions and take actions based on your inner yearnings? Do you have a vision for your birth experience? Do you want complete freedom for your birth or do you prefer a system that helps shape it? If you’re educated on the birth process and make decisions that you are comfortable with, then your birth can be the beautiful experience it was meant to be. Take Back Your Birth emphasizes inner preparation and goal setting for your birth, something which is sorely lacking in our culture.

Emergency Childbirth

By Gregory J. White,

Book cover of Emergency Childbirth: A Manual

When my husband and I were preparing for our unassisted homebirth, we had two books by our nightstand: Birth and the Dialogue of Love, and Emergency Childbirth. Emergency Childbirth was originally published by the Police Training Foundation and was used by emergency medical technicians for unexpected childbirth situations. One part of the book explained what to do if a baby is coming quickly and stated that any normal eight-year-old could handle it. 


Who am I?

After giving birth in the hospital four times in what I experienced as “assembly-line obstetrics,” I decided that my fifth child would be intentionally born at home with just me and my husband present. It forever changed our lives and I’ve been an advocate since 1998, with the publication of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love. I’m considered a pioneer in the unassisted birth community. Women are disappointed and disillusioned with their birth experiences and I help put to rest the idea of a painful, discouraging birth experience, replacing it with the manifestation of your inner desires. A satisfying and successful birth is within reach.


I wrote...

Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

By Lynn M. Griesemer,

Book cover of Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

What is my book about?

“Is this procedure absolutely medically necessary?” and “What do I want for my childbirth experience?” are two questions to ask while preparing for birth. Take Back Your Birth ignites the heart, the mind, and the emotions. 

Will you make decisions and take actions based on your inner yearnings? Do you have a vision for your birth experience? Do you want complete freedom for your birth or do you prefer a system that helps shape it? If you’re educated on the birth process and make decisions that you are comfortable with, then your birth can be the beautiful experience it was meant to be. Take Back Your Birth emphasizes inner preparation and goal setting for your birth, something which is sorely lacking in our culture.

Giving Birth with Confidence

By Judith Lothian, Charlotte DeVries,

Book cover of Giving Birth with Confidence

This is the only pregnancy and childbirth guide written by Lamaze International, the leading childbirth education organization in North America. I love this book because it provides clear information for pregnant women. The authors present: information to help expectant women choose their maternity care provider and place of birth; practical strategies to help them work effectively with their care provider; information on how pregnancy and birth progress naturally; and steps childbearers can take to alleviate fear and manage pain during labor. Previously titled The Official Lamaze Guide, this 3rd edition has updated information on: how vaginal birth, keeping mother and baby together, and breastfeeding help to build the baby’s microbiome; how hormones naturally start and regulate labor and release endorphins to help alleviate pain; and obstetric practices that can disrupt the body’s normal functioning.

I love this book because, unlike the popular book What to Expect When You're Expecting…


Who am I?

I am a medical/reproductive anthropologist, and my passion for this topic stems from my own two birth experiences: one was an unnecessary cesarean which left me with PTSD, and the other was a vaginal birth at home, which left me feeling empowered—if I could do that, I could do anything! After my first birth, I started asking other women about their birth experiences, and came up with the question that guided my PhD research and became the subject of my first book, Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Given that birth is so unique for every woman, why is it treated in such standardized, non-evidence-based ways in US hospitals? 


I wrote...

Birth as an American Rite of Passage

By Robbie Davis-Floyd,

Book cover of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

What is my book about?

This classic book, first published in 1992 and again in 2003, has inspired three generations of childbearing people, birth activists and researchers, and birth practitioners such as midwives, doulas, and even obstetricians to take a fresh look at the "standard procedures" that are routinely used to "manage" American childbirth. It was the first book to identify these non-evidence-based obstetric interventions as rituals that enact and transmit the core values of the American technocracy, thereby answering the pressing question of why these interventions continue to be performed despite all evidence to the contrary. This third edition brings together Davis-Floyd's insights into the intense ritualization of birth and the technocratic, humanistic, and holistic models of birth with new data collected in recent years. 

Pushed

By Jennifer Block,

Book cover of Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care

I highly recommend this book because it is an excellent exposé written by a well-known journalist on what is wrong with childbirth and maternity care in the US. As I do in my book, Block shows that in this country, more than half of laboring women are unnecessarily given drugs to induce or speed up labor, and one-third have cesareans. Block poignantly asks, "When did birth become an emergency instead of an emergence?" She examines childbirth as a reproductive rights issue, insisting that women have the right to an optimal birth experience, and that right is not being upheld. Block's research reveals that while emergency obstetric care is essential, we are overusing medical technology at the expense of maternal and infant health. 


Who am I?

I am a medical/reproductive anthropologist, and my passion for this topic stems from my own two birth experiences: one was an unnecessary cesarean which left me with PTSD, and the other was a vaginal birth at home, which left me feeling empowered—if I could do that, I could do anything! After my first birth, I started asking other women about their birth experiences, and came up with the question that guided my PhD research and became the subject of my first book, Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Given that birth is so unique for every woman, why is it treated in such standardized, non-evidence-based ways in US hospitals? 


I wrote...

Birth as an American Rite of Passage

By Robbie Davis-Floyd,

Book cover of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

What is my book about?

This classic book, first published in 1992 and again in 2003, has inspired three generations of childbearing people, birth activists and researchers, and birth practitioners such as midwives, doulas, and even obstetricians to take a fresh look at the "standard procedures" that are routinely used to "manage" American childbirth. It was the first book to identify these non-evidence-based obstetric interventions as rituals that enact and transmit the core values of the American technocracy, thereby answering the pressing question of why these interventions continue to be performed despite all evidence to the contrary. This third edition brings together Davis-Floyd's insights into the intense ritualization of birth and the technocratic, humanistic, and holistic models of birth with new data collected in recent years. 

Birth Matters

By Ina May Gaskin,

Book cover of Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta

Ina May Gaskin is one of the most influential midwives in the United States, whose birth manuals are widely read. This, her most recent publication, speaks to the importance of empowering women, valuing birth, and providing and supporting women’s choice of birthplace. It is smart, very readable, draws on scientific evidence, and makes you think.


Who am I?

I am a history professor at Purdue University and the author of several articles and three books that focus on controversies surrounding women’s reproductive health. I have also appeared on national television and radio, most recently on the PBS documentary, American Experience (the Eugenics Crusade), as well as the Vox/Netflix documentary “sex, explained.”


I wrote...

Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

By Wendy Kline,

Book cover of Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

What is my book about?

By the mid-twentieth century, two things appeared destined for extinction in the United States: the practice of home birth and the profession of midwifery. Who were these self-proclaimed midwives and how did they learn their trade? Because the United States had virtually eliminated midwifery in most areas by the mid-twentieth century, most of them had little knowledge of or exposure to the historic practice, drawing primarily on obstetrical texts, trial, and error, and sometimes instruction from aging home birth physicians to learn their craft. While their constituents were primarily drawn from the educated white middle class, their model of care (which ultimately drew on the wisdom and practice of a more diverse, global pool of midwives) had the potential to transform birth practices for all women, both in and out of the hospital.

Birth and the Dialogue of Love

By Marilyn A. Moran,

Book cover of Birth and the Dialogue of Love

This classic and groundbreaking book is an exploration of the “interpersonal aspect of childbirth for husband and wife and its effect on their growth and development in two-in-oneness," says author Marilyn A. Moran, the first advocate for husband and wife unassisted homebirth. “Childbirth is a dialogue, not a monologue…It is imperative that couples abandon the doctors’ quasi-pathological approach to birth…When an obstetrician steps in between the lovers at the moment of birth to catch the baby, the cyclic giving and receiving of significant genital gifts is shattered.”

Women are the main connoisseurs of childbirth books, but when my husband opened this book, he devoured it within three days and was completely convinced of planning a husband and wife homebirth. The book made so much sense to us. After four hospital births, we went on to have two unassisted homebirths, and Birth and the Dialogue of Love was pivotal.


Who am I?

After giving birth in the hospital four times in what I experienced as “assembly-line obstetrics,” I decided that my fifth child would be intentionally born at home with just me and my husband present. It forever changed our lives and I’ve been an advocate since 1998, with the publication of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love. I’m considered a pioneer in the unassisted birth community. Women are disappointed and disillusioned with their birth experiences and I help put to rest the idea of a painful, discouraging birth experience, replacing it with the manifestation of your inner desires. A satisfying and successful birth is within reach.


I wrote...

Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

By Lynn M. Griesemer,

Book cover of Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

What is my book about?

“Is this procedure absolutely medically necessary?” and “What do I want for my childbirth experience?” are two questions to ask while preparing for birth. Take Back Your Birth ignites the heart, the mind, and the emotions. 

Will you make decisions and take actions based on your inner yearnings? Do you have a vision for your birth experience? Do you want complete freedom for your birth or do you prefer a system that helps shape it? If you’re educated on the birth process and make decisions that you are comfortable with, then your birth can be the beautiful experience it was meant to be. Take Back Your Birth emphasizes inner preparation and goal setting for your birth, something which is sorely lacking in our culture.

Home Birth On Your Own Terms

By Heather Baker,

Book cover of Home Birth On Your Own Terms

This book is comprehensive: it describes self prenatal care, what to do if you encounter complications during labor and birth, and discusses postpartum care. Photos and birth stories can put a couple at ease as they plan for their upcoming birth. My daughter birthed her first baby unassisted and this was her favorite book during pregnancy.


Who am I?

After giving birth in the hospital four times in what I experienced as “assembly-line obstetrics,” I decided that my fifth child would be intentionally born at home with just me and my husband present. It forever changed our lives and I’ve been an advocate since 1998, with the publication of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love. I’m considered a pioneer in the unassisted birth community. Women are disappointed and disillusioned with their birth experiences and I help put to rest the idea of a painful, discouraging birth experience, replacing it with the manifestation of your inner desires. A satisfying and successful birth is within reach.


I wrote...

Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

By Lynn M. Griesemer,

Book cover of Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

What is my book about?

“Is this procedure absolutely medically necessary?” and “What do I want for my childbirth experience?” are two questions to ask while preparing for birth. Take Back Your Birth ignites the heart, the mind, and the emotions. 

Will you make decisions and take actions based on your inner yearnings? Do you have a vision for your birth experience? Do you want complete freedom for your birth or do you prefer a system that helps shape it? If you’re educated on the birth process and make decisions that you are comfortable with, then your birth can be the beautiful experience it was meant to be. Take Back Your Birth emphasizes inner preparation and goal setting for your birth, something which is sorely lacking in our culture.

Husband-Coached Childbirth

By Robert A. Bradley,

Book cover of Husband-Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth

The public tends to put more credibility when they see a doctor approve childbirth information. The Bradley Method is a proven and universal method that encourages and teaches natural childbirth – and, includes the father of the baby. While I believe that giving birth should be initiated and orchestrated by the baby, the mother and father are primary participants in the event. 

The Bradley Method helps couples prepare for a drug-free childbirth, discusses natural solutions for challenges during pregnancy, and focuses on bonding between mother, baby and father. This book is one of the most respectful books for couples planning to give birth.


Who am I?

After giving birth in the hospital four times in what I experienced as “assembly-line obstetrics,” I decided that my fifth child would be intentionally born at home with just me and my husband present. It forever changed our lives and I’ve been an advocate since 1998, with the publication of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love. I’m considered a pioneer in the unassisted birth community. Women are disappointed and disillusioned with their birth experiences and I help put to rest the idea of a painful, discouraging birth experience, replacing it with the manifestation of your inner desires. A satisfying and successful birth is within reach.


I wrote...

Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

By Lynn M. Griesemer,

Book cover of Take Back Your Birth: Inspiration for Expectant Moms

What is my book about?

“Is this procedure absolutely medically necessary?” and “What do I want for my childbirth experience?” are two questions to ask while preparing for birth. Take Back Your Birth ignites the heart, the mind, and the emotions. 

Will you make decisions and take actions based on your inner yearnings? Do you have a vision for your birth experience? Do you want complete freedom for your birth or do you prefer a system that helps shape it? If you’re educated on the birth process and make decisions that you are comfortable with, then your birth can be the beautiful experience it was meant to be. Take Back Your Birth emphasizes inner preparation and goal setting for your birth, something which is sorely lacking in our culture.

Spiritual Midwifery

By Ina May Gaskin,

Book cover of Spiritual Midwifery

I love this book because it was the very first to talk about spirit and energy in the birth process. In it, world-famous midwife Ina May Gaskin describes how she learned about births from attending them, later studying with a doctor. She describes many births on the farm in which she and her midwifery colleagues learned that birth is a spiritual process that is deeply affected by the energy in the room. They learned to "suss out" that energy and to send people with negative energy out of the birthing room. And they learned that if you change the energy in positive ways, you also change the outcome of the birth in positive ways. In other words, change the energy = change the outcome!


Who am I?

I am a medical/reproductive anthropologist, and my passion for this topic stems from my own two birth experiences: one was an unnecessary cesarean which left me with PTSD, and the other was a vaginal birth at home, which left me feeling empowered—if I could do that, I could do anything! After my first birth, I started asking other women about their birth experiences, and came up with the question that guided my PhD research and became the subject of my first book, Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Given that birth is so unique for every woman, why is it treated in such standardized, non-evidence-based ways in US hospitals? 


I wrote...

Birth as an American Rite of Passage

By Robbie Davis-Floyd,

Book cover of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

What is my book about?

This classic book, first published in 1992 and again in 2003, has inspired three generations of childbearing people, birth activists and researchers, and birth practitioners such as midwives, doulas, and even obstetricians to take a fresh look at the "standard procedures" that are routinely used to "manage" American childbirth. It was the first book to identify these non-evidence-based obstetric interventions as rituals that enact and transmit the core values of the American technocracy, thereby answering the pressing question of why these interventions continue to be performed despite all evidence to the contrary. This third edition brings together Davis-Floyd's insights into the intense ritualization of birth and the technocratic, humanistic, and holistic models of birth with new data collected in recent years. 

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

By Ina May Gaskin,

Book cover of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

I love this book because the first part of it is filled with wonderful birth stories that show how world-famous midwife Ina May Gaskin and her midwifery colleagues at the Farm learned how to attend births by helping the birth energy to flow untrammeled. And the second part is an excellent guide to navigating the over-medicalization of childbirth in the US. Drawing on her 30+ years of experience, Ina May shares the benefits and joys of natural childbirth by showing women how to trust in the ancient wisdom of their bodies for a healthy and fulfilling birthing experience. Based on the women-centered Midwifery Model of Care, this book gives expectant mothers comprehensive information on everything from the all-important mind-body-spirit connection to how to give birth without technological intervention.


Who am I?

I am a medical/reproductive anthropologist, and my passion for this topic stems from my own two birth experiences: one was an unnecessary cesarean which left me with PTSD, and the other was a vaginal birth at home, which left me feeling empowered—if I could do that, I could do anything! After my first birth, I started asking other women about their birth experiences, and came up with the question that guided my PhD research and became the subject of my first book, Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Given that birth is so unique for every woman, why is it treated in such standardized, non-evidence-based ways in US hospitals? 


I wrote...

Birth as an American Rite of Passage

By Robbie Davis-Floyd,

Book cover of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

What is my book about?

This classic book, first published in 1992 and again in 2003, has inspired three generations of childbearing people, birth activists and researchers, and birth practitioners such as midwives, doulas, and even obstetricians to take a fresh look at the "standard procedures" that are routinely used to "manage" American childbirth. It was the first book to identify these non-evidence-based obstetric interventions as rituals that enact and transmit the core values of the American technocracy, thereby answering the pressing question of why these interventions continue to be performed despite all evidence to the contrary. This third edition brings together Davis-Floyd's insights into the intense ritualization of birth and the technocratic, humanistic, and holistic models of birth with new data collected in recent years. 

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